Western Building Center’s truss and wall plant recently opened in Columbia Falls. The new 24,000-square-foot facility was needed as demand for housing and commercial framing continued to grow. The new facility is the home for the wall and floor trussing operation. Roof trusses are made in a nearby building. The company started out in the truss business several years ago and has steadily grown since then. The Columbia Falls facility employs 23 workers and 12 office staff.


Montana West Economic Development celebrated several projects which included management of Glacier Airline Enhancement and Retention Outreach and completion of the infrastructure for Glacier Rail Park. Several projects within the rail park are continuing such as CHS Mountain West Co-op’s fertilizer plant and Northwest Drywall and Roofing Supply.


Montana High Tech Business Alliance has announced that the outlook for the high-tech industry in Montana has never been stronger. Companies such as Cognizant, onX and ClassPass have either moved to or purchases existing Missoula high tech businesses.


Hokkaido Ramen & Izakaya has taken over the old site of Fusion Grille in the Great Northern Town Center in downtown Helena. Izakaya is an informal Japanese pub, somewhere to visit for a drink, some ramen, sushi or an appetizer .


Montana’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate held steady at 3.7 percent during November. The U.S. unemployment rate was unchanged from October, also at 3.7 percent. The state gained about 2,000 payroll jobs, with 1,900 coming in the private sector. Total employment showed a gain of 1,203 jobs in November. The unemployment rate remained steady due to an increase of just over 1,300 people in the labor force. Nearly 19,300 people were considered unemployed in November. Montana’s unemployment rate has fallen from 4.1 percent during the first three months of 2018.


Follow Yer’ Nose Barbeque opened its newest location in Bozeman earlier this month. The restaurant has been in business for seven summers in Emigrant. As Follow Yer’ Nose began to gain popularity they began to run out of space. They decided to open a location next to the Bozeman Brewing Company.


The Williston Economic Development Office has been recognized for excellence by an international organization. The Economic Development office has earned accreditation from the International Economic Development Council. The council is the largest membership association that serves economic and community development professionals in the world. The organization provides information, professional development and advocacy resources to more than 5,000 members across the globe.


The newly signed Farm Bill has classified hemp as a agricultural product. Montana farmers and MSU Extension agents have shown some interest in whether or not the crop could be grown in Montana. The biggest problem is that because it’s been illegal for so long, there are no processing plants for the hemp. The type of hemp that farmers would be growing is different than what you would grow to smoke. The hemp that would be grown would be for other things such as fibers, sunscreen, shoes, rope, clothes, soap, paper, diapers and even beer and milk. There are several different uses for hemp. You can also extract the CBD oil from hemp.


A proposal in Williston to change its ordinance regarding liquor licensing has elicited considerable controversy, as it threatens to increase the number of license holders and increase competition. The city intended to streamline the number of license types, modernize the language of the ordinance, as well as move from a population-based system to an open, fee-based system, which would allow for a larger number of liquor licenses within the city. License holders are upset, as they feel the change would not only de-value the licenses they hold, but would also open the city up to an unlimited number of bars and liquor stores, which they believe would be harmful to the community in the amount of crime and underage drinking. A minority in favor of the change pointed out that it would open the avenue to economic growth, opportunities and entrepreneurship.


A new refinery has been proposed for western North Dakota. AIC Energy Corp. is seeking approval from Williams County planning and zoning officials. The “Bakken Oil Refinery” would be 28,000 barrel-per-day biodiesel facility located along Highway 1804 southwest of Trenton, North Dakota, just across the Montana border. The refinery would use Bakken oil and “various locally sourced fuel feedstocks including agricultural products and waste oils,” according to an AIC executive summary. Its primary customers would be “advanced manufacturing and commercial enterprises,” and its products would include diesel, kerosene, gasoline and biofuels. AIC said the refinery would provide at least 12 permanent jobs and 14 to 16 “support staff” on top of a minimum of 200 construction jobs.


Kinder Morgan is expanding their Roosevelt Gas Plant in McKenzie County, in North Dakota — a $150 million project. The current plant about 7½ miles south of Watford City processes 50 million cubic feet of natural gas per day. Hiland Partners Holdings, a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan, plans to construct an additional plant at the same location to process another 150 million cubic feet per day.


Median single-family home prices spiked in an increasingly competitive sellers’ market in November, according to the Gallatin Association of Realtors. “The Gallatin area continued to see an active, competitive seller’s market through November,” said Steve Candler, CEO of the Gallatin Association of Realtors. “Average sales prices are up once again, while the inventory of available homes remains tight.” The number of new single-family listings jumped from 68 in November 2017 to 82 this November, a 20.6% increase. The number of units sold decreased 5.9%, from 119 last November to 112 this year, while the median sale price saw a 14 % spike, jumping from $376,900 to $429,582. The average number of days on market was 65, showing no change from last November, and the months supply of inventory decreased 2.9%, from 3.5 to 3.4.